Sailors and civilians assigned to Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville conducted a hostage-taking and personal carried improvised explosive device (PCIED) exercise in order to gauge the base’s force protection readiness in the case of a real-world emergency June 7.

During the drill scenario, a distraught spouse (played by IT1 Tyler Simonsen), gained access through base’s entry control point (ECP) and took 16 hostages at the Chief Petty Officer 365 Training Facility. After approximately two hours of negotiations, the alleged perpetrator agreed to the release of all hostages and was shortly thereafter neutralized after he detonated the training PCIED.

“What we did was to combine four job skillsets,” said Jim Butters, the installation training officer.

“The first one was surveillance and probing. The other one was the ECP penetration. Then we followed that up with a barricaded hostage situation and a PCIED.”

The exercise integrated base security, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) and Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS). The drill evaluated how well all of the services worked together.

“We evaluated security’s response,” Butters said. “The integration for this particular drill was using the crisis negotiators from JSO. We evaluated how well they integrated at the incident command post and how they worked with the NCIS agent to get the information about the suspect and formulate a plan to get the hostages out of the building.”

The drill also gauged the identification and detonation of a PCIED.

“What we did today was train with an individual wearing a PCIED, which is essentially a suicide vest or a stress vest,” said Mike McAninch, range safety firearms instructor for NAS Jacksonville. “It is manually operated by CO2 cartridges with a dead man’s switch to simulate the most real-world training as possible. It has good visual acuities to it. It has an audible ‘pop’ to it. It looks like what a bad guy in a real-world situation would have.”

Butters believes the outcome of the exercise was a complete success.

“The overall outcome as we look any exercise like this is number one, were there any safety issues?” Butters said. “There were no safety issues. No one got hurt and no equipment was broken, so that makes this exercise fully successful.”

The exercise also provided a training opportunity for 11 forensic science students from Keiser University.

“We try to get our students out for field trips and exercises outside of the classroom, because Keiser as a career college, is very big on the practical side of things,” said Tom Brady, a forensic science instructor at Keiser University. “We alternate lecture with good hands-on training.”

Exercises like these help security personnel become aware of potential threats and bolster their ability to be able to fully respond should a force protection situation arise.

“We want to learn through a drill,” Butters said. “We don’t want to learn during a real-world situation on the fly. It also exercises our communications which is essential with multiple agencies on scene.”